HC Deb 01 April 1892 vol 3 cc475-6

I beg to ask the first Lord of the Treasury whether, in view of the information officially conveyed to the Foreign Office by the British Ambassador at St. Petersburg, to the effect that the exodus of destitute persons from Russia is expected in well-informed quarters to assume extended proportions in the near future, it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce a Bill to prohibit the admission into the United Kingdom of all persons likely to become a public charge or to increase the difficulties of obtaining a livelihood already pressing upon large numbers of the native labouring population in this country?


Her Majesty's Government are not of opinion that anything has occurred as yet which would justify the introduction of such a Bill as that suggested by my right hon. Friend. The expectation of Mr. Arnold White that a large number of Russian Jews would come to this country this summer appears to have been mainly based on the belief that the United States—to which about 70,000 went last year—would be closed to them. We have reason to doubt the correctness of this belief and are making inquiries on the subject. It has also been stated that both the Austrian and German frontiers are, or will be, closed to such emigrants. If this be so, the length of the voyage from any Russian port would make it much more difficult for them to come to the United Kingdom than it has hitherto been. But I can assure my right hon. Friend that we quite appreciate the gravity of the matter and are watching it most carefully, for we feel that such an invasion as has been suggested, and as to which apprehensions were expressed (though entirely without adequate grounds) in last June, would be an intolerable abuse of the system of emigration.